Manipulation and abuse can come in many forms. Many times, it happens in relationships, generally between two people or in a family situation. It can be difficult to notice when manipulation, such as guilt tripping, occurs.
A particularly detrimental form of guilt tripping is known as narcissist guilt tripping. Let’s take a deeper dive into what this entails and how to recognize it.
What Is a Narcissist?
Narcissism is a disorder in which a person has a greatly inflated sense of self-importance. It is more commonly found in men and the cause is unknown. That said, it is believed that it is a combination of both environmental and genetic factors.
The symptoms include an almost obsessive need for admiration, a complete disregard for the feelings of others, a sense of entitlement, and an inability to handle criticism. Though it is a rare condition, it does require a medical diagnosis to confirm. Treatment generally involves talk therapy.
What Is Guilt Tripping?
A guilt trip is the act of making someone feel guilty. Most of the time, it is in order to get them to do something that they may not have agreed to. The idea is to make them feel guilty for disagreeing, eventually swaying them to comply.
Guilt tripping is more common than most realize. It is one way that parents teach their children important lessons because they are still emotionally developing and may not understand logic in the same way that an adult might.
When that guilt tripping becomes more frequent, there are certain gray areas that can become complicated.
Is Guilt Tripping Manipulation?
Guilt tripping is considered to be a form of manipulation. In this form of manipulation, one party attempts to sway the other into doing something that they don’t want to do by imposing guilt upon that person.
Parents will generally use guilt tripping to teach their children the difference between right and wrong. For instance, a parent might tell their child that they should not have hit their friend because it hurt them. The idea is to teach them that what they have done has caused harm to someone else.
That said, there are toxic versions of guilt tripping that can be used to achieve a goal. Guilt tripping aims to make the receiver feel bad or ashamed for expressing their feelings or preferences. It can also feel to the person being guilt-tripped that they are being manipulated.
In relationships, either romantic or between friends, family members, and acquaintances, frequent guilt tripping can lead to feelings of resentment. It can also lead to a loss of intimacy and closeness over a longer period of time.
Is Guilt Tripping Emotional Abuse?
This can be a tricky situation. Narcissist guilt tripping is a form of emotional abuse. But guilt trips, in a single or limited number of incidents, may not necessarily be considered to be emotional abuse. Emotional abuse itself can be quite complicated and there are several different tactics.
When guilt trips become continuous, they are considered to be emotional abuse. The reason being is that these guilt trips can be used to sway someone into thinking or feeling the way that the abuser does.
Guilt trips can come in any number of forms, making them even more difficult to really understand. They can be sarcastic comments as opposed to direct communication, the “silent treatment”, nonverbal cues, or even “keeping score” as a way to justify feeling a certain way.
Is Guilt Tripping Abuse?
it depends. Guilt tripping can happen infrequently enough that there are no underlying motivations. But generally speaking, when frequent guilt tripping is the norm, there is abuse happening.
What Is an Example of Guilt Tripping and What are the Signs?
We know what guilt tripping looks like in the event of teaching children a lesson, but what might it look like in the structure of a relationship? Here is one example of what guilt tripping might look like in a relationship setting.
Let’s say that you have to work late instead of coming home and spending time with your spouse. Your spouse may say something to the effect of, “well I make it a point to come home, but you never do.” The goal here is to make you feel guilty for having to work, whether voluntary or forced.
The goal is also to make you feel bad enough that you will leave work and do what your spouse wants. Doing this once in a while is not necessarily indicative of a problem; all of us have guilt tripped someone at one time or another. When that develops into a regular thing, it becomes muddied water.
There are a plethora of signs that guilt tripping is prevalent. Sarcasm about behavior is one. The comments are disguised as a joke but are really a ploy to make the other party feel guilty. Degrading comments can be much the same.
The silent treatment is common as well. Instead of sharing feelings, there is silence in order to make the other person feel guilty about their role in the disagreement.
Lists are common, too. Whether it is a list of the mistakes that one party has made or a “keeping of the score”, it can all lead to the feelings of guilt in order to change responses or behaviors.
Guilt tripping is common, maybe more common than it should be. Parents frequently use it as a way to teach children a lesson. But that can continue well into adulthood, making its way into the territory of abuse before long.
Having relationships that center around guilt tripping into adulthood can make the relationship more complicated. It is considered to be a form of abuse, whether the person doing the guilt tripping knows what they are doing or not. Getting away from frequent guilt tripping can be difficult emotionally, particularly within family or marriage situations.